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Albertsons COO to lead C&S retail if Kroger merger deal approved

A leaked Albertsons memo cites CEO Vivek Sankaran making the announcement

Albertsons Chief Operating Officer Susan Morris would move to C&S Wholesale Grocers to become president and CEO of retail if the $24.6 billion merger with Kroger is approved, according to a story in Boise Dev, a news publication in Morris’ hometown of Boise, Idaho. 

A C&S spokesperson confirmed the transition plan is in place but contingent on the merger’s approval. 

The story cites an internal memo from Albertsons Companies CEO Vivek Sankaran, who noted that Morris “rose through the ranks” of the company to become one of its “most influential and high-impact leaders…”

“Susan has been instrumental in building the Albertsons we know today starting with a few hundred stores in 2006. She will bring to C&S a multi-decade track record of operational excellence, innovation and growth…” Sankaran wrote in the memo.

An Albertsons spokesperson declined to comment on the story. 

The news comes on the same day Kroger and Albertsons released a detailed list of the 579 stores it would divest to C&S Wholesale Grocers an effort to appease the Federal Trade Commission, which filed a lawsuit with eight states and the District of Columbia in February to block the deal.  

The divestiture proposal has faced scrutiny from unions, federal regulators, and others, due in part to a similar divestiture of stores by Albertsons and Safeway during their merger in 2015. That deal divested 146 stores to Haggen, which led to the grocer’s bankruptcy within a few months.

Critics have raised concerns about the potential for failure of the divestiture of hundreds of stores to C&S, which now operates only 23 supermarkets and one retail pharmacy. 

The Boise Dev story notes that Morris has worked in a variety of positions at Albertsons, where she started as a customer service clerk and rose up to become vice president of operations for Albertsons Inc. She assumed the role of executive vice president and COO of Albertsons Companies in January 2018.

Albertsons’ corporate website notes: “Susan has more than 38 years of experience in the retail grocery industry and has held a variety of leadership roles across the company. Her experience includes serving as executive vice president of regional operations; division president in two markets; and various other roles across merchandising and operations.”

She is chair of the Albertsons Companies Foundation and serves on the board of the Food Marketing Institute and the San Francisco District 12 Federal Reserve Bank board, according to Albertsons’ website. Morris also serves on the board of Idaho Power, according to the Boise Dev article.

She is also a graduate of Colorado State University and “has been recognized numerous times for her leadership in the grocery industry, including receiving both a Top Women in Grocery and a Trailblazer Award from Progressive Grocer. Locally, she was named a CEO of Influence in 2014 and was a Tribute to Women in Industry (Idaho) honoree,” according to Albertsons. 

Albertsons Chief Operating Officer Susan Morris would move to C&S Wholesale Grocers to become president and CEO of retail if the $24.6 billion merger with Kroger is approved. Will the announcement of her potentially joining C&S help push the merger deal through? Let us know your thoughts in the comments on this story.

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